ROSSBURG, Ohio. – July 13, 2013 – It was only a matter of time until Brad Sweet tasted victory lane at Eldora Speedway in World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series competition. However, no one would have guessed it would have been in one of the most prestigious races anywhere in dirt track racing, the Kings Royal.
Sweet, of Grass Valley, Calif., started outside of Brandon Wimmer for the 30th running of the historic event and jumped out to an early lead in the 40-lap, $50,000-to-win race in his Kasey Kahne Racing Ollie’s Bargain Outlets ride. A three-car battle that included Wimmer and Donny Schatz prevented Sweet from running away.
On the final restart on lap 25, after a wreck involving Chad Kemenah and Paul McMahan battling for the fifth position, Sweet struggled at first to retake the lead as Schatz put the pressure on in his attempt to become a three-time Kings Royal winner. By the 27th lap, though, Sweet had fully cleared Schatz and with 13 more clean laps through lapped traffic found himself crowned King.
“It’s unbelievable to win the Kings Royal,” said Sweet, who has narrowly missed out on winning a World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series event at Eldora several times, including Friday night when he finished second. “It’s still sinking in, but we’ve been fast here so I knew we could do it. I can’t thank my guys enough, Kasey Kahne Racing, Kasey Kahne himself for giving me this opportunity, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, my guys Dave, Eric, Rob and Willie. It was déjà vu on coming up to try to get around Sammy Swindell again to lap him. I know Donny’s going to be good and the first time we restarted I chose the top and he had me beat going into one and if he would’ve gone to the top it would’ve made it a much closer race.”
The night wasn’t all smooth sailing for Sweet. The Ollie’s Bargain Outlet machine blew a motor in qualifying and saw Sweet start sixth in the fifth heat race. In a show of incredible speed, Sweet was able to work his way to the lead to earn the outside pole for the Kings Royal feature event.
For the waning laps of the event it appeared that it would either be Schatz and Sweet in the top two positions, but in the final three laps Tim Kaeding made huge strides. After losing pace with both of the leaders for several laps on lap 38 Kaeding made huge gains to catch Schatz. The position would not be decided until the final lap. Kaeding issued a hard slider to Schatz going into turn one, but slid up the track losing time. It looked like all was lost for the San Jose, Calif., native when he threw his Roth Enterprises-backed machine into turn three and appeared to will the car to stick pulling even with Schatz.
From there it was an even drag race to the checkered flag that Kaeding won by a mere quarter of a second.
“We had a great race car all night, and we just wanted to see how things fell in place,” Kaeding said. “Brad was fast in open traffic, but kind slowed up in traffic and gave Donny and I a chance to get a run at him. We’ve had a rough couple of nights, but to come back and finish second at the Kings Royal is awesome.”
Schatz had to settle for third in the Tony Stewart Racing STP/Armor All J&J.
“Brad was awfully quick up top and I didn’t use up enough track trying to get past him,” said Schatz, of Fargo, N.D. “We weren’t really prepared to have a fuel stop (on lap 25 during the Kemenah and McMahan red flag) so we weren’t ready with shock changes and that stuff. I lost a spot to Tim I was just hoping Brad would make a mistake with a lapped car and I would be in a different groove but that didn’t happen. You know, second, third, it doesn’t matter the only thing we came for was a win and we didn’t get it so we may as well finished 20th.”
Tony Stewart finished better Saturday than he did Friday, but that wasn’t the whole story. Stewart made the feature through his heat race, but did not find the finish he wanted. Stewart faced an early exit on lap 16 after alleging contact with TSR teammate and former Kings Royal champion, Steve Kinser. The contact led to Stewart flipping coming off of the turn 4. Stewart would finish 23rd on the night and voiced his displeasure over the PA system at his driver much to the fans’ surprise.
Wimmer held on to a fourth-place finish while crowd favorite and Wooster, Ohio native, Jac Haudenschild wowed everybody by moving through the field to capture fifth.